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Journalists who cover police beat assaulted in Potosí

(IPYS/IFEX) - In less than a week, four journalists who cover the police beat for their respective media outlets have been assaulted, presumably by criminal elements, in the city of Potosí, in southwestern Bolivia.

Journalist Alfonso Sandoval told the National Press Association (ANP) that, on 26 August 2009, he was approached by two men who, after asking him if he was a journalist, beat him. Sandoval believes that the assault was in retaliation for his coverage of police operations when he worked for the programme "Magnetismo", aired by the Canal 33 television station. He currently works as a reporter for the Patrimonio del Sur radio station.

On 27 August, Iván Rodríguez, a journalist for the Kollasuyo radio station, was attacked by three unidentified men who took his mobile phone and some money. Rodríguez, who is also the international relations secretary for the Press Workers' Confederation, said that the attacks on journalists are being carried out by individuals hired to silence the press.

On 29 August, Boris Ruiz, a journalist for the Bolivisión television station and Radio Imperial radio station, was attacked from behind by at least three individuals as he was on his way home. He was able to hear one of them say "it's him" as he was beaten.

On 31 August, ATB television station journalist Milton Bracamonte was held up by three individuals as he was on his way home from work. The unidentified men took him away from the city center and beat him, while complaining about his coverage of police operations. They took his shoes and mobile phone.

Potosí police chief Colonel Oscar Muñoz told the ANP that the attacks on journalists may have been committed by individuals who feel that the police's operations against crime and the coverage by the press are harming their interests. He also pointed out that he is waiting for formal complaint to be filed with the police in order to initiate investigations into the incidents.

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